Economic Yearbook 2007
BIG BEND: Rounding out the Economy
The Big Bend region is growing its manufacturing and tourism base
Rounding Out the Economy
MANUFACTURING GROWTH: Tallahassee is getting serious about diversifying its economy. Throughout the Big Bend, developer interest is increasing. "We have an honest-to-goodness manufacturing base emerging here,'' says Bill Law, chairman of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County. "It will help to round out our government and university economy.'' Last year's landing of innovative Canadian compressor-manufacturer Danfoss Turbocor set the stage for other supplier companies to move in, such as components manufacturer Global CNC Solutions. The move helped stoke an anticipated 10% manufacturing jobs gain for 2007.
GOALS: The Leon County Commission selected economic development as its top priority this year, following up with $725,000 for Vision 2020, which will give the market its first locally focused venture fund for nurturing entrepreneurialism. "We believe we can leverage that to $10 million in actual investment,'' says Vision 2020 Chairman Rick Kearney, CEO of Mainline Information Systems, the leading IBM reseller.
NEW: Taylor County looks to begin a giant leap into tourism, diversifying from a manufacturing focus, with the $700-million waterfront Magnolia Bay development planned, possibly to receive permitting this year. ... Among new-to-market businesses: A Spanish-language online retailer in Hamilton County and Target Corp.'s first food distribution center, coming to Columbia County.
CHALLENGES: A landmark agreement between Leon and Wakulla counties is expected to help cleanse Wakulla's groundwater, but some road-widening needs in Gilchrist County remain unattended. ... The search for higher-paying jobs continues, especially in counties such as Hamilton and Lafayette, where 2007 per capita income is below or close to 50% of
the state average.
Tallahassee / Leon County
HIGHER ED: Tallahassee's university base and the mounting push to foster new businesses will make this a good year, predicts Bill Law, president of Tallahassee Community College and chairman of the county's Economic Development Council. "The intellectual capital of our three academic institutions is amazing,'' says Kay Stephenson, CEO of Datamaxx Group. "And yes, the area is beginning to realize they can take advantage of that.''